If you find yourself confusing terms that almost look similar, it is because you do not understand the meaning of either of the terms. Examples of such confusing terms are political parties and interest groups. Most people consider these terms the same and do not see a difference. The truth however is that though they may be closely related, they are not the same.
Political Parties Vs. Interest Groups
The main difference between these two groups is that Political parties are involved in the election process to win while an interest group is not at all involved in the process of elections.
Political parties are the medium between the people and the political sphere. Parties are also used to describe the people being politically or socially involved in, matters related to politics. While political parties can concentrate on different matters, the main aim is to win the elections.
Interest groups just like political parties bring the people and the spheres together. They are mainly found in healthcare, taxes, migration, and other broader issues. A group is mainly involved in the persuasion of the government to act on some matter. They are mainly involved in one or two specific matters.
Comparison between Political Parties and Interest Groups
- Political parties are an entity that acts as a medium between the people and the political sphere. Interest groups on the other hand act as the in-between for the people and the political sphere.
- Political parties have an aim of doing everything possible to ensure that their political candidate wins the elections. The interest parties on the other hand have an aim of listening to people’s matters and persuading the government to act on them.
- Political parties operate on flexible grounds. They aim to attract and mobilize the people so that their candidate has the highest chance of winning the elections. Interest groups on the other hand are inflexible and have no power whatsoever of attracting large groups of people. Instead, they operate on the people’s behalf.
- Matters that political parties mostly concentrate on include migration, taxes, education, and healthcare. Interest groups on the other hand focus on specific political issues including political, economic, political changes, advantages and disadvantages of abortion.
What are Political Parties?
Political parties are mainly in existence to help support one or more candidates in the political group, to enable them to win an election. For example, there are two political parties in the United States. They include Democrats and Republicans. Every election year, each of these political parties supports their candidate and uses all means possible including mobilizing the people to enable their candidate to win.
The focus of these political parties includes social welfare of the people, equity, fair payments of taxes, good and healthy foreign relations and so much more.
Political parties focus on having more than enough power to support their candidate or candidates and help them win the elections. They mainly focus on the politician’s needs before they can focus on the needs of the people.
Any individual who identifies with the party even when not registered as a voter forms that specific political party.
What is an Interest Group?
This is a group of people sharing the same opinions on some specific matters. The interest groups are not involved in the election process at all. They do not mobilize people as they do not have any candidates that they are supporting to win the elections. The interest group’s main focus is to get specific matters of concern from the people and persuade the government to act on them.
Small groups that make up the interest groups include labor unions, social groups, student unions, corporations, and businesses. Such groups are involved in matters such as the environment, minimum wages, or gun control. Since these groups are inflexible, how powerful they are depends on the people they can mobilize. Their power is also dependent on the politicians they can influence with the specific issues they want to be actioned.
Difference between Political parties and Interest Groups
- Individuals with common ideals, visions, and goals create both political parties and interest groups.
- Political parties and interest groups focus on political, economic, and political change.
- Political parties operate flexibly as they can mobilize a large number of people to support their political candidate and help him or her win. Interest groups on the other hand are inflexible. Their main aim is to focus on people’s specific matters and to persuade the government to act on them.
- People forming a political party do not always share the same view. Interest groups on the other hand are formed by people with similar interests and ideas and are looking towards achieving a common goal.
There are different matters that political parties deal with which include migration, taxes, education, and healthcare. Interest groups deal with specific issues. They include:
- advantages and disadvantages of gun control and advantages and disadvantages of abortion.
- The size of a political party is not a determinant that the political candidate will win the elections. The influence that interest groups have towards resolving the specific matters at hand makes them powerful.
- Both political parties and interest groups have a common goal of bringing people together and helping them make the right decisions.
We can conclude and say that indeed there are similarities between political parties and interest groups. However, the one thing that makes them different is their end goals. Political parties are aimed at supporting and helping an individual win an election while interest groups focus on helping the people by urging the government to act on a few of their concerns.
Without the help of the people, political parties can only do so much. People need to be mobilized to support the party’s preferred candidates. The same applies to interest groups. The matters of concern come from the people. It is the people who help the interest gain their significance depending on how fast the matters addressed are acted upon.